Returns FAQ

Find answers to all of your eBay questions, whatever the subject.

  • Is offering returns optional for sellers?

    Yes, offering a return policy is optional for sellers. When you do accept returns, be sure to customize your return preferences and return policy to fit your business needs.

    Listings from Top Rated sellers in the US program must offer a 30-day money-back return policy to qualify for the Top Rated Plus discount and seal on their listings on

  • Can buyers request a return even if I don't offer them?

    Buyers are able to request a return for any reason. However, if you don’t offer returns and the buyer requests a remorse return, you can decline the request.

  • Can buyers request a return even if my return window has passed?

    Buyers are able to request a return even after your return window has passed, and you can decline that request if it's a remorse return. However, if the request to return an item is made within the eBay Money Back Guarantee window for reasons that the item was "not as described", eBay may refund the buyer and require you to reimburse us for the refund.

  • What if a buyer doesn't return an item after I've processed their refund?

    When you process a return request, we recommend that you wait to refund your buyer until after the item has been returned to you and you’ve inspected it.

    Note: Buyers are instructed to ship their original items back to you within 5 business days of opening the request. If you do refund the buyer before an item is returned to you, and you see that the item has not been shipped after 5 business days, contact the buyer. If you can’t resolve the issue with the buyer, ask eBay to step in and help.

  • My buyer wants me to handle a return outside of the eBay process. What should I do?

    Instruct buyers to go to My eBay > Purchased items and use the Request a return feature. This way, buyers can view and track the status of the return request from start to finish. Additionally, the entire return transaction can be reviewed by eBay in case of an issue where you may need us to step in and help.

  • My buyer started a return, but never sent the item back. What should I do?

    If the buyer does not send the item back, the return will time out and you will not be required to refund the buyer. Your seller standing will not be impacted.

  • How do I handle returns of multiple items from the same buyer?

    If a buyer requests a return for multiple items at once and your preferences are set to manually approve returns, you can approve the request and provide a single return shipping label to your buyer. Be sure to communicate this to your buyer, and upload the relevant tracking information.

  • What do I do when I receive a cancellation request?

    Buyers can submit a cancellation request within 1 hour of paying for an item—as long as you haven’t uploaded tracking or marked the item as Shipped. You will have 3 business days to accept the cancellation request, so you can check to make sure the item hasn’t shipped before you approve the request.

    If you don’t do anything after 3 business days, the request will "time out" and close—and the transaction will proceed as usual, with no refund given. Buyers who wish to cancel an order more than 1 hour after the transaction can contact the seller directly. The seller can then choose whether or not to cancel the order.

  • Can I offer a partial refund?

    Yes. You may choose to send a partial refund, but the buyer will keep the item. It’s recommended you work out the details with your seller before completing the partial refund through the return process.

  • Can buyers initiate a single return for more than one item?

    No. Unless they were purchased as part of a multi-quantity item, buyers must initiate a return for each item individually.

  • How are returns for multi-quantity items handled?

    Buyers are able to return multiple quantities of the same item with a single return, but can only initiate one return for each multi-quantity item purchase. For example, if the buyer initiates a return for 3 of 10 shirts purchased as a multi-quantity item, they will not be able to initiate a return for the remaining 7 shirts at a later date.

  • When will a return not result in a defect?

    Sellers will only receive a return-related defect if eBay has to help resolve a returns issue, and the resolution is found in favour of the buyer. The buyer’s reason for returning an item will no longer count as a defect as long as you successfully resolve a return request with the buyer without asking eBay for help.

  • When should I ask eBay to help after the sale?

    Always try to work out all issues with your buyer. If you cannot resolve the issue, ask eBay to step in and help. If eBay finds in favour of the buyer, you could receive a defect.

  • Can I dispute paying for return shipping if I feel a buyer is misusing returns?

    You can ask eBay to step in and help if you feel the buyer has misrepresented the reason for the return. eBay will review your request and take appropriate action. Remember, if eBay steps in to help and eBay finds in favour of the buyer, it will result in a defect. Try to resolve the issue with the buyer directly before asking for assistance.

  • What happens if I can't resolve an issue with a buyer but they don't ask eBay for help?

    As long as neither you nor your buyer asks eBay to intervene, the return will time out after 30 days and there will be no impact to your seller standing.

  • How does the "Report a problem with the buyer" feature work?

    If you want to resolve an issue with your buyer during a return—but you feel a buyer is taking advantage of your return policy—you have the additional option to anonymously report the buyer to eBay. eBay will begin to use this data to help identify bad buying behavior across our marketplace while enabling eBay to help protect sellers against buyers who repeatedly misuse the eBay marketplace.

    To report a problem with the buyer, simply select on the Report a problem with a buyer link provided when your return is closed. Choose the description that matches your situation, then select Submit.

  • What is the difference between asking eBay for help and reporting the buyer?

    Asking eBay for help means that either you or your buyer have been unable to resolve an issue directly, and need eBay to mediate and find a solution.

    Reporting a problem with a buyer lets eBay know that you’ve successfully resolved an issue with the buyer without assistance, yet you feel the buyer has misused the process. By selecting Need to report a problem with the buyer, you privately alert eBay to the situation without any consequence to your seller standing.

  • What should I do if there's a problem with the item's condition after the buyer sends it back?

    You’re protected through the item condition policy—providing that the condition you shipped it in matches how it was received by the buyer.

    If your buyer requests a return and you’d like to communicate with the buyer about an issue, contact the buyer immediately and ask them to go to their Purchased items page and upload photos detailing the item’s condition. All buyers and sellers can each upload up to 10 images to the return (PNG, JPEG, BMP or GIF, up to a maximum file size of 5MB) which can help facilitate conversation and resolve the issue—sometimes preventing a return from being processed. You can add photos until the return is closed, where they will permanently remain with the file, visible to you and your buyer.

    If you can’t resolve a returns issue yourself, you can ask eBay for help by clicking on the link in My eBay. Customer Service will review the issue, including the buyer’s return history. If we determine a buyer has misused the returns process, the buyer may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.

Return preferences

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  • What are basic return rules?

    Basic return rules let you choose when you want to automatically approve certain return requests, issue a refund, and automatically send return shipping labels. You can also choose when to automatically issue a refund and inform the buyer to keep the item, if you don’t want it back. Basic rule options are available inside your return preferences.

  • What are advanced return rules?

    Some sellers may want to go beyond the basic return and refund rules and further customize how they want to handle certain types of returns by setting advanced rules. Advanced rules include options to make rules for handling returns within certain categories or lists and the condition of the item. Advanced rule options are available inside your return preferences.

  • Where can I find and set my return preferences and policies?

    You can set up your return preferences at My eBay > Site Preferences > Return Preferences. Your return policies can be set up when you create or edit your listing.

  • If I decide to automate my return process, can I still print my own label?

    If you set your preferences to automatically accept a return request, the buyer receives a shipping label from eBay. You may only use the Upload your own label option when you’re processing a return manually.

  • What if I sell items I don't want returned, but want to refund the buyer?

    If you manually approve individual return requests, you can communicate with the buyer and instruct them to keep the item while you issue a refund. Alternatively, you can customize your return preferences to automatically refund and instruct the buyer to keep the item when they've indicated a certain reason for the return—for example, if it was broken in shipping. This expedites the refund for the buyer and allows you to avoid paying for return shipping for a broken item.

  • Can I create a rule that applies only to a single item?

    Yes, you can create and manage the automation rules in your returns preferences for a single item, a custom list of items, or by item condition or category using advanced settings.

  • Can I have multiple return rules for the different categories of items I list?

    Yes, you can customize up to 500 different combinations of rules in your returns preferences based on many different factors, including how to handle returns of items in different categories, item conditions, price and more. You can customize as much, or as little, as you like.

RMA numbers

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  • When should I use Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) numbers?

    Many large businesses use RMAs as part of their business operations to track and process large volumes of returns. We do not recommend using RMAs unless your business requires it.

  • How do I add RMA numbers?

    First, check the RMA checkbox that appears in your return preferences to tell eBay that you need to include an RMA on your return shipping labels. Then, after you’ve received a return request, you’ll be prompted to add your RMA number when you create a return shipping label. When the buyer prints your label, the RMA number will appear on the label.

  • Can I use RMAs when I've automated some of my preferences?

    No. You can only use RMAs in cases where you’re manually approving the returns, as RMA numbers are unique to the item and usually issued on a case-by-case basis.

Replacement & restocking

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  • What is a replacement?

    A replacement can be offered to buyers who would rather get a replacement item instead of a return when there’s a problem with the original. Replacements are defined as exchanging one item for another of the same item, size, colour, or UPC.

  • Who should offer replacements?

    Sellers who have multiples of the same items for sale can offer replacements. Some conditions apply.

  • How does a buyer initiate a replacement?

    The buyer initiates a replacement by choosing the appropriate topic from the More Actions drop-down menu next to the transaction in their purchased items summary.

    If you offer replacements, the buyer will also have the option for buyers to choose either a refund or a replacement. If you don't offer replacements, the buyer only sees the refund option.

    Buyers provide details about the return request and select if they want a refund or a replacement.

  • What happens if I'm out of stock and a buyer wants a replacement?

    If you sell multiple identical items in a single, fixed price listing format with Good 'Til Cancelled as the listing duration, you can select the out-of-stock option in My eBay > Site Preferences to help manage the visibility of your listing. If you offer replacements and the buyer requests a replacement for an item that is out of stock but still visible, simply offer the seller a refund instead. You won’t receive a defect for the request.

  • How do I handle buyer requests for exchanges?

    Exchanges—when one item is returned in exchange for a different item—are not currently handled through the eBay returns process. If you would like to offer an exchange instead of a return or replacement, use the Communicate with the buyer feature, which allows the communication to be visible to eBay in case of a problem. Some sellers who don't want to manually handle an exchange will ask the buyer to return the item and give a refund through the normal eBay process and request that the buyer reorder the new item.